BREAKING: Marco Rubio Wins Primary

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) easily won his primary election against businessman Carlos Beruff. The election was called about an hour after the polls closed at 7:00 p.m.

Rubio had not originally planned on running for re-election, but changed his mind at the end of June and entered the fray.

NYT: The Clintons Need To Cut Ties With The Foundation

Well, when you lose The New York Times, maybe it’s a sign that the Clinton camp needs to work on something to quell the allegations that the power couple’s nonprofit is guilty of pay-to-play regarding donations, meetings with these donors, and good fortune being bestowed upon those contributors somewhere down the line after the checks have been made to be cashed. Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff at State, has been revealed to be the middle person who directed folks to the Clinton Foundation for meetings with the then-secretary (after being denied an audience through official channels) who were unable to be granted a face-to-face rendezvous. Oh, this was granted after a donation was made.

The Times didn’t go so far as to recommend that the Foundation be relegated to a pit of mothballs, like USA Today, with major charitable operations being transferred to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; they noted that the former first family should bolt from the Foundation. And they should probably do this as soon as humanly possible. Why not go the shut it down route? The Times mentioned that the reason the Foundation shouldn’t be closed is that tens of thousands of people could lose aid from its various programs. The publication also cited the good work of the Foundation, doing its best to cast off the aspersions that this nonprofit is pretty much a slush fund that’s racked with financial records that are so sloppy they rise to the level of fraud. The exact donor amounts and the dates in which these transactions occurred remain unknown.

Still, the paper said that settling this Clinton Foundation drama is critical and an “ethical imperative” for the former secretary of state:

Mr. Clinton has said he will resign from the board of the foundation and the CHAI board if Mrs. Clinton wins the presidency. Simply closing the foundation, as even some Democrats recommend, could kill programs helping tens of thousands of people. While that’s unwarranted, the foundation could do much more to distance itself from the foreign and corporate money that risks tainting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Its plans to restrict its funding sources only after the election will likely dog Mrs. Clinton.

A wiser course would be to ban contributions from foreign and corporate entities now. If Mrs. Clinton wins, Bill and Chelsea Clinton should both end their operational involvement in the foundation and its affiliates for the duration of her presidency, relinquishing any control over spending, hiring and board appointments.

Mrs. Clinton has said she intends to give Mr. Clinton a role in her administration. Cutting his foundation ties would demonstrate that he is giving any role he would have in the administration the priority it deserves. It would also send a signal that Mrs. Clinton and her family have heard the concerns of critics and supporters and will end any further possibility for the foundation to become a conduit to the White House for powerful influence seekers.

The Clinton Foundation has become a symbol of the Clintons’ laudable ambitions, but also of their tangled alliances and operational opacity. If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries. Achieving true distance from the foundation is not only necessary to ensure its effectiveness, it is an ethical imperative for Mrs. Clinton.

Well, if this is The Times’ campaign advice, then they should just go the route of recommending the Foundation shut down. The only reason people give money to the nonprofit is because the Clintons are on the marquee. Without the possibility of reaping dividends allegedly rewarded to those bog donors by the power couple, who would give to the Foundation now that they’re not at the helm?

Clinton supporter Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said that if this Foundation is an “extraneous” issue that could cut into her standing with voter trust and ethics, then it should be shut down. It’s another tacit acknowledgement that the Clinton Foundation, like her emails, constitutes the Achilles’ heel of Hillary’s presidential ambitions.

Yet, these two are also linked. Over at The National Interest, they wrote back in July, that the besides prevarication and non-transparency becoming hallmark characteristics of the Clintons—it’s also necessary for them to engage in such behavior to keep their political machine well oiled, which so happens to include some top Clinton Foundation donors:

One reason may be that a level of secrecy and deceit is necessary to grease the wheels of the sophisticated enterprise Walter Russell Mead has called the Clinton Machine—the international, multimillion dollar operation that dispenses patronage, rewards loyalists, and sustains the ultimate power couple’s permanent campaign.

[…]

The stench of this kind of influence peddling—whether or not it is technically lawful—is degrading to Americans’ trust in their political institutions. The Clinton Machine’s variety of “honest graft” conducted through elite social networks doesn’t exactly conjure up voters’ highest ideals or bring out the best of American democracy. Clinton is the second most unpopular major party nominee in recent history for a reason.

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, a liberal, added that Clinton has to come to terms with her ethically questionable dealings and fast. It may not cost her the election, but it could sink her presidency. He didn’t elaborate on whether impeachment was in the cards, though it could sink by the mere fact that her baggage could zap any hope of her getting anything substantial done. It would be a presidency with zero political capital. I guess that could be viewed as a silver lining, though beating her would be better.

Here's The White House Comment on Colin Kaepernick's Protest

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that while he doesn't agree with San Francisco 49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick's reasoning or decision to sit during the National Anthem, he believes that he has the right to do so.

Kaepernick remained seated during the Star-Spangled Banner prior to an NFL preseason game, and said he did so because the United States is an oppressive country.

Earnest said that while President Obama is aware of Kaepernick's protest, he has not yet spoken to him on the matter.

"I certainly don't share the views that Mr. Kaepernick expressed after the game, and explaining the reasoning for his actions. But we surely all acknowledge, and even defend, his right to express those views in the setting that he chooses."

Earnest also called the protest "objectionable."

In response to Kaepernick's protest, many fans have taken to burning their jerseys.

Surprise: FBI Recovers Another 30 Benghazi Emails Hillary Clinton Deleted

The FBI has recovered additional emails former Secretary of State and Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton deleted and by default, refused to turn over to the State Department. From AP

The State Department says about 30 emails involving the 2012 attack on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, are among the thousands of Hillary Clinton emails recovered during the FBI’s recently closed investigation into her use of a private server.

Government lawyers told U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta Tuesday that an undetermined number of the emails among the 30 were not included in the 55,000 pages previously provided by Clinton to the State Department. The agency said it would need until the end of September to review the emails and redact potentially classified information before they are released.

The hearing was held in one of several lawsuits filed by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which has sued over access to government records involving the Democratic presidential nominee.

Last week we learned the FBI discovered 15,000 more emails Clinton did not turn over during the course of the Bureau's criminal investigation of her private server. Clinton has claimed multiple times she turned over all "work related" emails to the State Department. She had not. Clinton also deleted 30,000 emails she deemed "personal." 

"I provided all of my emails that could possibly be work related," Clinton said on March 10, 2015.

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has officially submitted court mandated questions to Clinton about her private email server, which she must answer under oath, in written form. The answers are due on September 29. 

Mental Health Expert David Plouffe: Trump Is A Psychopath

Oh, of course, I’m being facetious; Democratic operative David Plouffe isn’t a mental health expert. He even admitted that he doesn’t have a degree in psychology when he declared that Donald Trump was a psychopath on NBC’s Meet The Press. It was based on his views of the man, more specifically what he sees on television. Plouffe said that because he feels that Trump is a pathological liar, who lacks remorse, and has a “grandiose of self worth,” he’s a psychopath. Good on host Chuck Todd for pushing back on this outrageous claim. And I’m no Trump fan, but this was absolutely outrageous. The discussion about Trump’s mental health was spurred by Plouffe’s initial assessment that Clinton couldn’t do well in Colorado and Virginia, two states that the campaign has virtually ceased campaign operations since they feel they have it in the bag. It was a wholly unnecessary remark (via NBC News):

"I mean, basically, we have a psychopath running for president. I mean, he meets the clinical definition, okay," Plouffe told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Plouffe backed up his diagnosis by listing off psychopathic symptoms that he said Trump has displayed: "The grandiose notion of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of empathy and remorse."

Still, Plouffe conceded: "I don't have a degree in psychology."

[…]

The race ends today; I think Hillary Clinton is guaranteed at least 269 electoral votes," Plouffe said. "I think it's likely going to be a landslide," he added later.

I would also add that Virginia has tended to surprise people. In 2014, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner looked like he was going to cruise to re-election. As we entered the fall, he was up in some polls by 20 points. The Real Clear Politics average had him ahead of Republican challenger Ed Gillespie by almost 10. In the end, he barely won re-election, with a margin of victory of 0.8 percent.

Yet, getting back to the Left’s fascination with Trump’s mental health. We’ve seen consistently Clinton and her minions hitting Trump for failing one of the basic litmus tests of a president: would we trust this person with nuclear weapons? Clinton says Trump can’t be trusted, though her husband apparently couldn’t be trusted either, losing the biscuit, the card carrying the access codes, for months towards the tail end of Bill’s presidency. Given her serial failure abroad, one could argue that Clinton shouldn’t be running a Girls Scout Cookie sale, let alone our foreign policy, but back to the health question. Larry O’Connor over at Hot Air put on his Media Research Center hat and noted something a bit odd—though not entirely surprising.

It’s sexist to question Hillary Clinton’s health, but perfectly fine to suggest that Donald Trump is a psychopath. MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski made similar references, saying that someone from the mental health facility should look into Trump’s mental state. Yeah, that’s weak sauce. If you want to discuss Trump’s health, you have to talk about Hillary’s, which has been dotted with photos of her using stools to get into cars, secret service agents assisting her up stairs, and the video that some on the right say shows the former first lady having a seizure.

Donald Trump has called on Clinton to release more of her health records; she’s refused to comply. So, now it’s a story that deserves at least some attention, without the progressive drivel that merely discussing Clinton’s health is sexist. The media and Clinton have opened themselves up to this glaring bias concerning the health of the two candidates. If you’re going to talk about one possibly blowing up the world, you need to dig into the weeds, which are admittedly a bit nutty, about Clinton possibly having problems with seizures. It’s the same game with different actors.

In 2008, how many stories did we read about John McCain dying in office, his cholesterol levels, and, yes, his mental capacity to be president? There were plenty. Slate even had a post about the deterioration of McCain’s mind after eight years. RedState’s Jay Caruso found these gems:

Both candidates are probably fine health wise. This isn’t a West Wing situation where someone is hiding a degenerative, though non-fatal, illness. Hillary has attacked the alt-right, one of Trump’s most die-hard supporters, in the hopes of tying this band of white nationalists to Trump and the Republican Party. In doing so, they’ve elevated the stature of this loony fringe. With the media, the attacks on Trump’s mental health, but aversion to an equal discussion about Hillary has allowed the other side to make their case about Clinton’s health, whose assessments are just as irresponsible as Plouffe going on national television and declaring Trump a psychopath based on what he sees on television. I’m not a Trump fan, but this explicit bias towards the health question is absurd. And if that means we’ve allowed the crazies to disseminate conspiracy theories, well, maybe that’s the blowback we get. It’s just another low point this cycle.

Marine Vet Who Lost His Legs in Afghanistan: I'll Stand With Pride For Both of Us, Kaepernick

Retired Marine Sgt. Johnny Joey Jones lost both of his legs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. When he saw 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the National Anthem before a recent preseason game, he responded with this: 

Last night, Jones joined Fox News to further react to the ongoing fallout over Kaepernick's behavior, which has been condemned by fans and fellow NFL players as disrespectful not only to the country, but to those who have sacrificed so much to keep it free. 

"I actually took issue with his comment afterward. Refusing to stand, that's one thing and it offends me, it really does, but that's free speech. But his comments equated patriotism and pride in this country or that anthem, to supporting oppression," Jones said. "By no means is our country perfect and by all means lets address actual issues and solving them, but when you sit there and equate my pride and my country to a bigot in some other place or the ones that are in this country to the 300 million that aren't that way, I take issue with that."

"That flag and that anthem stands for the people who fought in the Civil War and united this country. It stands for people who fought for civil rights that made this country a little bit better and it stands for the people that are working hard every single day to fix these issues," he continued. "As a service member it's offensive for people to not stand for the National Anthem but as an American it's offensive for you to equate my pride to bigots or oppression."

Pressure is growing on the NFL to issue a behavior policy outlining how players should act during the National Anthem.

New Plan: Create Iraqi 'Rangers' Force to Beat ISIS

ISIS beware, the United States is secretly conveying a new fighting force to once and for all put an end to radical Islam. 

Well maybe not secretly, but according to 2nd Lt. Gregg Bernthal, the new 'Iraqi Rangers' will be well worth U.S. tax dollars and are "trained go-getters who will be extremely important in the fight."  

Many soldiers, like Bernthal, from the 101st Airborne Division are spending less time fighting and more time training Islamic soldiers, a new tactic that is supposed to defeat ISIS. 

"This program is important because it lays the foundation for an elite Iraqi unit," said Capt. Peter Jacob, commander of Company A. "Students start at day one as an individual and come away at the end of this course as part of a team."

"Because Da'esh has been dug in for so long now, the Iraqis are going to have to think on their toes. There's going to be a lot of different situations that they find themselves in. Good training is always something that the Iraqi soldiers in this course will be able to fall back on," Bernthal said.

But don't worry America, "You can already see the discipline of the soldiers," Bernthal says. "The selection process weeds out those who do not have the intestinal fortitude to stay and fight. The separation from normal, basic soldiers is the rigorous selection process they go through to become Iraqi Rangers."

Hopefully this new tactic can finally defeat the overwhelming force that is ISIS.  

Until then, keep spending the trillions America.

So, It Was Chris Christie Who Advised Trump To Soften His Position On Immigration?

Donald Trump’s apparent softening on his immigration position has many observers noting that his current talking points mirror many of his former Republican opponents, who he slammed as being soft on immigration. So, what caused this changed of heart? Was there an adviser who started this conversation of moving away from a humane deportation force? His new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, once drafted a memo in support of offering a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Well, according to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, it was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Claude Brodesser-Akner of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger had more on the publication’s sit down with the former mayor last week:

Donald Trump's apparent pivot away from his calls for mass deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants is partially the result of prodding by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

And, Giuliani says, even more Christie-inspired changes to Trump's immigration stance will be forthcoming, like his call for tracking immigrant visas like Fedex packages, and using the E-Verify system to reduce illegal labor.

In an interview with NJ Advance Media on Thursday, Giuliani, a top adviser to the Republican presidential nominee, said Trump's recent reversal on immigration policy came after his inner circle for several weeks suggested a more nuanced, practical, and humane approach in dealing with the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Asked if Christie was responsible for Trump's softening approach to immigration, the former mayor responded: "The answer to that question is yes."

Christie, Giuliani said, "is not the only one" counseling a more moderate stance on those who immigrated illegally, "but he is of great value to him."

On ABC News’ This Week on Sunday, guest host Martha Raddatz asked Christie about the Giuliani’s comments regarding him being the main man concerning shifting Trump away from his hardline stance on immigration. Christie refused to answer; saying the advice he gives to Donald is for him alone. So, should we take that as confirmation?

Listen Martha, I ran for president as your know, I ran for governor twice and I’ve been the governor for seven years. I find that the people who are my best advisers are the people who are smart enough to give me really good advice, and smart enough to keep their mouth shut about what advice they give me. And so, if I want advisers that way, that’s the kind of adviser, I’m going to be to Donald Trump. I’ve said consistently, the advice I give to Donald is to Donald. And that’s based upon our friendship of the last 14 years…Rudy can talk about whatever he wants to talk about. He’s my friend. I like him a lot, and respect him, but I don’t talk about the advice I give to Donald Trump.

Again, all will be revealed, or will continue to be muddled, during his speech on immigration tomorrow.

Reversal: Maine Governor Tweets He's Not Resigning

On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage told a radio station that he is considering resigning. Just a few hours later, he took to Twitter to dispel the rumors that he himself basically created by saying that he's staying put.

LePage has had quite the week, and has faced numerous calls to resign or seek some sort of help after leaving a vulgar voicemail for a Democratic state representative.

Fail: Obamacare Enrollments 'Less Than Half' of Initial Forecast

In January, we reported that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had downgraded its forecast for Obamacare enrollments by eight million people, with many consumers deciding that the 'Affordable' Care Act was just too costly.  The official protections were slashed by another million in March.  Among the millions of Americans who have signed up for the law since 2013, a large percentage of them were covered before the law evicted them from their existing plans, in contravention of a central presidential promise.  By one important measure, Obamacare's overall enrollment performance has undershot initial actuarial forecasts by 24 million people.  And as taxpayers shell out $2 trillion to pay for a failing, unpopular law, CBO has also determined that the number of uninsured Americans is expected to rise  from 26 million to 28 million between 2017 and 2026.

Pro-Obamacare forces have more or less abandoned their own sales pitch on the law -- including on cost curves, allowing people to maintain satisfactory arrangements, "choice and competition," enhanced access, and especially affordability.  Instead, they've planted their flag on "more people are insured thanks to this law," which is a woefully insufficient metric for success.  Of course more individuals will obtain coverage when they're legally required to do so, and when taxpayers are spending waterfalls of money to subsidize those purchases.  The bigger story is how few people have done so, and how that dearth of participation is threatening the very foundation of the law.  The Washington Post noted recently that sign-ups remain "far short" of initial expectations:

Enrollment in the insurance exchanges for President Obama’s signature health-care law is at less than half the initial forecast, pushing several major insurance companies to stop offering health plans in certain markets because of significant financial losses. As a result, the administration’s promise of a menu of health-plan choices has been replaced by a grim, though preliminary, forecast: Next year, more than 1 in 4 counties are at risk of having a single insurer on its exchange, said Cynthia Cox, who studies health reform for the Kaiser Family Foundation. Debate over how perilous the predicament is for the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, is nearly as partisan as the divide over the law itself. But at the root of the problem is this: The success of the law depends fundamentally on the exchanges being profitable for insurers — and that requires more people to sign up. In February 2013, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 24 million people would buy health coverage through the federally and state-operated online exchanges by this year. Just 11.1 million people were signed up as of late March.

...The law requires every American to get health coverage or pay a penalty, but the penalty hasn’t been high enough to persuade many Americans to buy into the health plans. Even those who qualify for subsidized premiums sometimes balk at the high deductibles on some plans. People who do outreach to the uninsured say the enrollment process itself has been more complex and confusing than Obama’s initial comparison to buying a plane ticket. “This exchange will allow you to one-stop shop for a health-care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose a plan that’s best for you and your family,” Obama said in a speech in 2009. “You will have your choice of a number of plans that offer a few different packages, but every plan would offer an affordable, basic package.” In some markets, a shortfall in enrollment is testing insurers’ ability to balance the medical claims they pay out with income from premiums. In an announcement curtailing its involvement in the exchanges this month, Aetna cited financial losses traced to too many sick people signing up for care and not enough healthy ones.

When you sell an 'everybody wins' paradise wherein everything is simple and cheap and wonderful, disillusionment can set in very quickly if your words don't mark reality.  That's what's happening: Obama's signature domestic "accomplishment" is failing badly because its critics were correct about nearly everything, and because (a) his vaunted rhetorical skills failed to convince most Americans that his plan was a good idea from the beginning, and (b)  his assurances have been systematically exposed as fantastical snake oil as reality sets in.  The Post story cites a Kaiser Foundation estimate that approximately one in four US counties "are at risk of having a single insurer on its exchange" next year.  Avelere, a top health care consulting firm, expects that number to eclipse one-third of regions:

Here is a summary package from Fox News' Special Report on Obamacare's latest struggles:

The White House and Obamacare Godmother Hillary Clinton continue to assert that the law is working, even as they're discussing and proposing costly and destructive "fixes" to the law, perhaps spurred on by the urgency of an explosion of reports from media outlets that are beginning to realize that Obamacare is in serious trouble. Congressional Republicans have voted to repeal the law, a move thwarted by the president.  They've also released a detailed replacement proposal that one analysis says would substantially lower costs for individuals and families, as well as the federal government, without massively disrupting the percentage of Americans covered.

Wait–The Trump Wall Will Be...A Virtual One?

The surrogates are saying one thing, while the Trump campaign voices an opposite position. That’s what’s going on with the latest flap over if there’s actually going to be a physical wall to assist in border enforcement. On Monday, MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson was saying that some in the surrogate corner were saying that the wall would be a virtual one, while Jim Acosta of CNN reported from the campaign proper that the Republican nominee vows to build "an impenetrable physical barrier."

Katie wrote that Wednesday would be a huge day for Trump, as he plans to deliver a huge speech on immigration. This could be where we see a confirmation that the Republican nominee is seriously softening his stance in immigration. He’s already laid out a new position that pretty much mirrors what Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio said on the campaign trail (via Sean Sullivan, Ed O’Keefe at WaPo):

For more than a year, Donald Trump took the hardest line on immigration — vowing to deport 11 million illegal immigrants en masse and pillorying his GOP primary rivals as favoring “amnesty.”

But 11 weeks before the election, Trump is suddenly sounding a lot like the opponents he repeatedly ridiculed.

The nominee and his campaign aides are now talking openly about requiring illegal immigrants to pay back taxes and potentially allowing those without criminal records to stay in the country — lines that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida repeatedly used in the GOP presidential primary. Trump also says that any softening of his position won’t include a path to citizenship — consistent with the way former Florida governor Jeb Bush described how he would provide legal status for undocumented immigrants.

So, maybe this is just a miscommunication with the Trump campaign and its surrogates. But let’s play with this virtual, technological wall for a minute. Would that be palatable for die-hard Trump supporters who thought Trump was going to actually build a wall and create a humane deportation force to deport 11-12 million people?

More border patrol agents (and maybe the National Guard) assisted by aerial drones to pinpoint illegal points of entry by illegal immigrants; it's what Rick Perry wants to do. We have been flying drones along the border for years, but without adequate border agents—who have been hamstrung by this administration—it’s an unworkable strategy. Does a physical wall really matter if our immigration enforcement apparatus can actually do their jobs in the first place?

Then again, Trump could say that a wall is going to be built, with a beautiful wall to allow people to come here legally. At the same time, it seems as if the humane deportation force is out, or at least it really seems that way based on what Trump said during his town hall event with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last week.

“So now we have the person been an upstanding person, the family is great, everyone is great, do we throw them out or do we work with them…,” he said.

(H/T Right Scoop)

John Kerry: You Media People Should Stop Reporting on Terrorism So People Don't Know What's Going On

Speaking from Bangladesh Tuesday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested members of the media stop covering (Islamic) terrorism so people won't "know what's going on." Kerry attempted to preempt his statement by implying media coverage creates copy cats and promotes more terrorism. 

"If you decide one day you’re going to be a terrorist and you’re willing to kill yourself, you can go out and kill some people. You can make some noise...perhaps the media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover it quite as much. People wouldn’t know what’s going on," Kerry said.

While the copy cat, attention seeker argument may be true in a handful of cases, the media ignoring terrorism as the Obama administration has arguably chosen to do for nearly a decade, isn't going to make terrorism go away. 

For example, the administration downplayed the ISIS threat by claiming they were "jayvee" and demanded intelligence reports be altered to paint a better picture of the increasingly dangerous situation around the world and in the United States. And who could forget the Justice Department changing Allah to "God" and censoring pledges to ISIS with "[omitted]" in the transcripts of the Orlando terrorist's 911 call? 

This new push by Kerry shouldn't be surprising, after all it was just a few weeks ago when Kerry essentially argued the use of air conditioners and other appliances are bigger threats to the world than ISIS. 

Here's the reality: Kerry doesn't want the press giving attention to the issue of terrorism because it further exposes the failure of the Obama administration's foreign policy over the past eight years. Terrorism doesn't go away if you simply ignore it but instead, expands.

Maine Gov. LePage Tells Radio Station He May Resign

After a tumultuous week that's led to calls for censure from both sides of the aisle, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) told a radio station that he is considering resigning from his position before the conclusion of his second term. LePage, who is term-limited and cannot run again, was re-elected in 2014 for a four-year term.

LePage also apologized again to Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) after leaving him a profanity-laced voicemail.

The governor said he was "looking at all options" and that includes stepping down.

From the Portland Press Herald:

“I’m looking at all options,” the Republican governor said while appearing on WVOM, a Bangor talk radio station. “I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it.”

He later said, “If I’ve lost my ability to help Maine people, maybe it’s time to move on.”

Stay tuned.

Clinton Team Getting Psychological in Debate Prep

When it comes to preparing for the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton and her top aides are perhaps conducting the most comprehensive groundwork in candidate history. Clinton, herself, has questioned several times how does someone plan for a debate against Donald Trump. Who on Earth could emulate the bombastic Republican nominee?

The answer seems to lie in examining Trump’s personality – which is exactly what Team Clinton is doing. And believe me, they are examining it closely.

Clinton’s people are working with Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter for Trump’s “Art of the Deal” book. Schwartz had come out previously against Trump’s candidacy and Democrats have used him as a source to understand Trump’s thinking. Team Clinton is using his insight to find Trump’s deepest insecurities. They hope to utilize points of frustration to hit Trump with during the debate.

And the former ghostwriter is not the only resource at their disposal.

Team Clinton is using a host of psychology experts to create a personality profile of the Donald. They believe they have a lot of vulnerabilities to work with, concluding his biggest insecurities are his net worth, intelligence, and image as a successful businessman. Clinton’s strategy is not to win with policy awareness, but to throw Trump off and embarrass him on stage.

Despite the monumental debate prep, Clinton has apparently still been unable to find a Trump stand-in.

As for Trump, his approach has been unsurprisingly different. He is a notably confident speaker, and believes whole-heartedly that too much preparedness can be a bad thing. His study sessions have been much more laid-back. However, Trump hopes to contrast his brash-but-honest demeanor against Clinton’s articulate-but-phony appearance.

America has yet to see which style will win over voters. One thing may be certain - people are expecting the first Trump-Clinton showdown to be the most watched in debate history.

Video: New Trump Ad Touts Paul Ryan's Agenda, Hillary Up 7 in New Poll

Donald Trump's campaign has released its second television commercial of the general election, expanding its ad buy to nine states -- including a few where his polling deficits have ballooned into the double digits. While Trump's first spot seemed geared toward his base, this one features an economic message that appeals to a much wider swath of the electorate. Watch:

This is a classic "contrast" ad, arguing that Hillary's economic plan will lead to "more of the same, but worse," while Trump will usher in a new era of prosperity and growth. Of particular note are a few of the citations in fine print at the bottom of the screen. When the ad pivots from dreary Hillary to upbeat Trump promises, the narrator says, "in Donald Trump's America, working families get tax relief. Millions of new jobs created, wages go up, small businesses thrive."  To back up the first two assertions, the ad directs viewers to...Paul Ryan's "a better way" framework, and to the Tax Foundation's scoring of House Republicans' tax reform package.  One of the strongest, but debatable, conservative arguments for Trump is that because he's not especially interested in policy details or the specifics of governance -- remember this? -- he's likely to outsource a large portion of "his" legislative agenda to GOP leaders on the hill.  The fact that he's already touting Paul Ryan's fiscal plans as what would happen "in Donald Trump's America" is an indication that this assumption may be largely valid. Meanwhile, following up on yesterday's battleground polling post, here's the latest national survey:

Allahpundit rightly points out that Monmouth has a sterling A+ rating from FiveThirtyEight, which is why their Hillary (+13) bombshell a few weeks back touched off such intense Republican panic.  Several bad news cycles later, she's back down to a solid but diminished seven-point lead.  By a two-to-one margin in the survey, voters correctly believe that Clinton Foundation donors received preferential treatment by her State Department; Trump should keep on hammering her on that front (setting aside the fact that, sighhe himself is a Clinton Foundation donor.  Hillary's favorability rating also sits at an abysmal 34 percent, with a 51 percent negative number -- a catastrophe for someone who's been in the public eye for decades.  Everyone knows who she is, but only about one-third like what they see.  Trump's problem, per usual, is that his numbers are significantly worse, at (36/57).  Still, taking those numbers side-by-side, one might expect to find a lot of dissatisfied voters floating around.  Yup:

Bottom line: The best news for Trump is that Hillary's wide lead in the series has been eroded by five points over a short time period. The worst news is that he's been stuck in the 30's in 11 of the last 12 nationwide surveys in which all four "major" candidates are included. Parting thought: There's a sizable crowd of Trump supporters who insist that his clear favorability disadvantage doesn't matter because she's also unpopular. AP's post offers this historical tidbit:

That table dates back more than three decades, over which the candidate with the worse favorable rating has lost every single presidential election.

UPDATE - A new addition this morning:

Is CNN Altering Trump's Tweets?

There is no doubt that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has capitalized on free media by way of Twitter, accumulating more the 11 million followers over the past year.  He often uses the outlet to inform his supporters of positions on key issues and to hit his political opponents.  

On Sunday, CNN decided to remove a specific word from one of Trump's posts regarding Hillary Clinton. The word "Crooked" in "Crooked Hillary Clinton" was completely omitted from a tweet displayed on screen and read on air by anchor Jim Sciutto.

Trump had originally written: “I think that both candidates, Crooked Hillary and myself, should release detailed medical records. I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?”

Instead CNN reported it as: “I think that both candidates, Hillary and myself, should release detailed medical records. I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?”

So to answer the question, yes, CNN is altering Trump's words. Weird.

Hearing On McAuliffe's Concealed Carry Ban In State Government Buildings To Be Held Wednesday

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe should be given credit for signing a pretty solid concealed carry reciprocity agreement in February. It reversed the executive actions of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring that would’ve curtailed gun rights in the state. Yet, the open carry ban in government buildings remains. Now, there’s a discussion whether to ban concealed carry in state buildings. A hearing will be held Wednesday morning on the matter (via CBS 6):

The ban applied immediately to open carried guns but banning concealed weapons requires more regulation. Wednesday, there will be a public hearing where residents can weigh in.

"Concealed carry permit holders are like the general population, most are good guys, more are law abiding. But not every single one is, and how are you going to know the difference?" said [Virginia State Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Lori] Haas.

[…]

"They can’t guarantee us our protection. Nobody can. Only we can,” said Gary Lewis, the owner of Gary’s Guns and Transfers in Richmond.

[…]

But some gun dealers say banning all guns from specific buildings would make it less safe.

"To announce to the world -- good guys and bad guys -- that none of the good guys are armed, it makes it clear that they have no resistance when they want to do some harm,” said Goldberg.

Others opposed to the ban say concealed permit holders have to pass a background check, and therefore are authorized to have that gun.

"As long as he checks and says, 'Yes I have my concealed gun, I have a valid permit,' that should give him right to go in there,” said Lewis.

The actions of Herring would’ve gutted Virginia reciprocity agreements with tow-dozen states. This announcement was made right around Christmas time. Amid the uproar, in January, McAuliffe reversed course, adding that he would restore those rights, which he did in February. In doing so, Virginia’s carry permit became one of the most permissible in the country, rivaling that of Utah.

Concealed carry holders are more law-abiding than the police, and the percentage of those who have committed crimes is incredibly small; too small to make it worthy of an anti-gun talking point. At the same time, while I support those fighting against this possible piece of legislation, the real battle of reciprocity is over and we won. So, by all means, I’m for concealed carry holders being allowed to exercise their rights in state government buildings, yet it’s not something that we should do a full-blown mobilization. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, we need all the resources we have against her anti-gun push. If we were debating Virginia adopting constitutional carry, then that’s a different story.

Rick Perry To Appear On Dancing With The Stars

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will reportedly be dusting off his dancing shoes and taking aim at the mirror ball trophy on the upcoming season of "Dancing With The Stars." While the official contestant roster and professional pairings of season 23 will be announced on Tuesday, Entertainment Tonight has confirmed that Perry will be appearing on the show.

ET can exclusively confirm that Jana Kramer, Marilu Henner, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Vanilla Ice are the latest celebrities headed toDWTS. Retired football star Calvin Johnson and Indy race car driver James Hinchcliffe are also on tap for the fall season, ET has learned.

They join a celebrity cast that includes Olympians Laurie HernandezandRyan LochteBrady Bunch star Maureen McCormick, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Amber Rose, Jake T. Austin and Little Woman: LA star Terra Jole.

The last political figure to appear on the show was former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who withdrew during week three of season nine after suffering a fractured foot.

Break a leg, Gov. Perry!

So, We've Lost Track Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Guns In Iraq And Afghanistan

Well, this isn’t the most shocking news, though it’s something that the Pentagon should be reviewing regarding tracking weapons we send abroad. In the $40 billion in arms we’ve doled out since 9/11 to Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of guns have gone missing. In some instances, like in Afghanistan, rifles went missing after they were handed out to new security forces recruits. Officials suspects that these individuals trotted off with their rifles in the hopes of selling them. In fact, that’s how some veterans knew that the military was losing track of arms when an Iraqi man posted a photo of an American M4 rifle, which he was trying to sell. Former BBC journalist Iain Overton tried to crunch the numbers regarding these lost arms. He admitted that since the Pentagon doesn’t keep proper paperwork on these firearms transactions, a true figure is impossible. But that figure does soar into the hundreds of thousands. The New York Times also did an estimate of small arms sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, about 700,000 total guns, but only 48 percent could be accounted for. C.J. Chivers at NY Times Magazine had more:

Today the Pentagon has only a partial idea of how many weapons it issued, much less where these weapons are. Meanwhile, the effectively bottomless abundance of black-market weapons from American sources is one reason Iraq will not recover from its post-invasion woes anytime soon.

[…]

Overton is releasing the data and his analysis today. It covers 412 contracts and merits pause for reflection as the parties to the international Arms Trade Treaty gather this week in Geneva. The treaty, which took effect in 2014 and of which the United States is a signatory, is intended to promote transparency and responsible action in the transfer of conventional arms and to reduce their diversion to unintended hands — exactly what the United States often failed to do in recent wars.

In all, Overton found, the Pentagon provided more than 1.45 million firearms to various security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, including more than 978,000 assault rifles, 266,000 pistols and almost 112,000 machine guns.

[…]

As an illustration of how haphazard the supervision of this arms distribution often was, last week, five months after being asked by The New York Times for its own tally of small arms issued to partner forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon said it has records for fewer than half the number of firearms in the researchers’ count — about 700,000 in all. This is an amount, Overton noted, that “only accounts for 48 percent of the total small arms supplied by the U.S. government that can be found in open-source government reports.”

[…]

Overton’s analysis also does not account for many weapons issued by the American military to local forces by other means, including the reissue of captured weapons, which was a common and largely undocumented practice.

Adding to the suspicion that the number is even larger, Overton is certain that his tally missed shipments, because the data that the Defense Department made available was incomplete or laden with contradictions that were not readily reconciled. For example, the contracts it released were for more than $6.5 million or $7 million, depending on the year. Overton suspects that this hides many smaller purchases.

Chivars added that keeping tabs on these weapons was not a priority; arming and training the new security forces to do battle and ease the burden on American forces was the main action item. Now, it’s impossible to track these weapons unless the pop up on social media.

And review of these transactions isn’t going to be happening soon. For starters, the Taliban is a resurgent force in Afghanistan. They’ve regained ground, they have dug in, and our reconstruction project is in the crosshairs. As for the security forces we have trained, they’ve been unable to halt the Taliban advances (via NYT):

When President Ashraf Ghani visited the northern provincial capital of Kunduz last fall, after the city had finally been reclaimed after falling to the Taliban, he promised improvements to make sure things never got out of hand again.

Among the changes was creating three new administrative districts to help improve government support in the province. But nearly eight months later, those three districts are firmly under the control of the Taliban — and, in fact, government forces were never able to clear them and install the new officials. It is the same story in much of the rest of Kunduz Province, where the Taliban control or have mined many roads and have enforced their ban on smoking and listening to music in several areas.

Even in some of the Kunduz districts nominally under government control, officials’ true reach remains limited to the bazaars and the administrative buildings, with the Taliban having free movement in the villages, according to local residents.

ICYMI: CBO Projects 2016 Budget Deficit To Hit $590 Billion

The fiscal year is set to end on September 30 and the deficit is expected to be $56 billion more than what the Congressional Budget Office projected. According to Reuters, slow growth in revenues and more spending on entitlement programs mucked up the original numbers:

The U.S. budget deficit is expected to grow to $590 billion in fiscal year 2016 due to slower than expected growth in revenues and higher spending for programs including Social Security and Medicare, the Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

The estimate, which is $56 billion larger than CBO's forecast in March, shows the deficit increasing in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009. CBO said the deficit is expected to be $152 billion higher than in 2015 and will equal 3.2 percent of economic output.

The deficit peaked at $1.4 trillion in 2009 and shrank to $485 billion in 2014.

The nonpartisan research agency also said that debt held by the public will amount to nearly 77 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 2016, three percentage points higher than last year and its highest ratio since 1950.

Yes, we all hear President Obama boasting about how he shrunk the deficit in half, but the deficit has gotten worse and the national debt is approaching $20 trillion. The administration likes to frame themselves as saviors of an economy, which is in recovery. Many Americans simply don’t feel it. An argument could be made that Obama stopped us from going over the cliff, but the second part of that is pushing us up the hill to a true recovery. He’s been disappointing in that regard.

Commercial Flights Between U.S. And Cuba To Begin August 31

For the first time since 1961, there will be commercial air travel between the United States and Cuba. JetBlue is set to begin direct flights from Miami to the island beginning on Tuesday. U.S. Airways will operate flights to Cuba starting next month.

Currently, there are 17 chartered flights each day from the United States to Cuba. Eventually, there will be about 20 commercial flights daily between Cuba and the U.S.

Until 2015, Americans were generally not permitted to visit Cuba without special permission. Earlier this year, President Obama became the first president in 88 years to visit the island.

Don't Go Back To Brazil, Ryan Lochte

U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte had a rough time in Rio. He lost his Speedo endorsement. He was hammered by the media for exaggerating his account of how he was robbed, while intoxicated, near a gas station in the host city. And now, he’s been formally charged with filing a false police report by Rio authorities. Not only that, but our own State Department is encouraging Lochte cooperate (via WEX):

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the department had no specific comment about the case, but did say U.S. citizens are encouraged to comply.

"We've seen those reports as well. Due to privacy considerations, I don't have information to offer," she said.

"I would say, speaking broadly, we do encourage U.S. citizens as always to cooperate with law enforcement," Trudeau added.

Mr. Lochte, don’t do it. Don’t go down there. It’s a false police report charge from a law enforcement authority that isn’t of the best caliber. There’s a discussion about the police surreptitiously engaging in a campaign to murder people of color. It’s absolutely ludicrous, but in Rio—well, there have been more than a few times where police have been caught covering up what appear to be murders in the favelas. Second, I would suspect that Lochte is never going to be heading to Rio again any time soon if ever, so why even partake in this three-ring circus. Rio police are looking to avoid being embarrassed. Maybe if there were a bit more open regarding what information they do have on the alleged incident, then maybe there could be a reason for Mr. Lochte to head down there. As of now, he should stay put.

First, let’s rehash what Larry O’Connor detailed at length over at Hot Air about this fiasco.

The first being that Lochte didn’t lie about getting robbed; he was robbed by armed security guards. There is no evidence that Lochte and his three teammates, Gunnar Bentz, James Fiegen, and Jack Conger, were even near the bathroom. USA Today Sports went into the bathroom where the men allegedly broke a soap dish dispenser and a mirror. They found no evidence of vandalism, though it’s not like this bathroom was some immaculate place to relief one’s self. It was a dump.

There’s also no video evidence that they were even near the bathroom. Oh, and the guards who allegedly committed the robbery, well, we don’t know their names. They haven’t been made available for interviews. Bentz’s account corroborates Lochte’s later account that armed men demanded payment in order for the four men to leave. Again, that’s, uh, armed robbery.

Larry included with eyewitness account and a statement from Bentz that seems to corroborate it. The only vandalism that occurred was Lochte accidentally knocking off a sign on the wall.

Eyewitness Deluz tells USA Today that as he brokered an agreement between the armed robbers security guards — you know, the ones who held these four Americans at gunpoint while shouting Portugese at them until they got their cash — the only damage ever mentioned by the criminal thugs (the robbers, not the swimmers) was a framed, canvas sign that Lochte apparently knocked down off the wall.

[…]

Olympic swimmer Gunnar Bentz released a written statement about the incident:

“After attending an event with several swimmers from different nations, I left in a taxicab along with U.S. swimmers Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte around 6 a.m. On the way back to the Olympic Village, we pulled into a convenience store to use the restroom. There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes. There was a locked door out back and I did not witness anyone breaking it open. I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall. I then suggested to everyone that we needed to leave the area and we returned to the taxi.

“Two men, whom I believe to have been security guards, then instructed us to exit the vehicle. No guns were drawn during this exchange, but we did see a gun tucked into one of the guard’s waistband. As Jimmy and Jack were walking away from the vehicle, the first security guard held up a badge to me and drew his handgun. I yelled to them to come back toward us and they complied. Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk.

“Again, I cannot speak to his actions, but Ryan stood up and began to yell at the guards. After Jack and I both tugged at him in an attempt to get him to sit back down, Ryan and the security guards had a heated verbal exchange, but no physical contact was made.”

[…]

Swimmer Jack Conger also released a statement:

Early Sunday morning I was with USA swimming teammates celebrating at the French House. Four of us took a taxi back to the Olympic Village, and on the way we pulled into a gas station to use the restroom, but ultimately relieved ourselves outside, for which I apologize. Ryan Lochte removed a poster from a nearby wall, which apparently alerted the gas station employees, leading to our being confronted by two armed security men. Although I cooperated with their requests while there was a heated exchange among others, at one point a weapon was pointed at me. Eventually, a man appeared who was able to translate for us, helping to defuse the situation. We paid some money to compensate them for the torn poster, and returned to the Village in a different taxi.

But, but the bathroom, right? We’ve all seen what happens when the media thinks something happened and channels their inner most biases, in this instance the ugly American abroad, to frame a narrative that’s false. We don’t know the names of the guards, the bathroom wasn’t vandalized, there’s no evidence that they were even near the bathroom, and not all the video evidence has been released. Yet, the bathroom was vandalized and the swimmers made up a story about being armed at gunpoint to cover their tracks. That’s what was disseminated and permeated the psyche of millions of people. It’s not true. Now, Lochte isn’t getting off scot-free. Yes, he probably did act like an idiot—and he did exaggerate the account, but it doesn’t negate the fact that these men were robbed by armed guards whose names we don’t know. Just the lack of evidence alone should have people scratching their heads, demanding more transparency from the Rio police.

“I will take the word of one of our Olympians (yes, even the flakiest of them all, Ryan Lochte) over an inherently corrupt, 3rd world Banana Republic trying to make their disorganized and crime-ridden sports festival look like the poster-child for American bad behavior,” wrote O’Connor.

I couldn’t agree more. Lochte, atone for stretching the truth, continue to do damage control, but don’t fly down to Rio.

Iran Deploys Long Range Missiles, US Drones Retreat from Airspace After Warning

Earlier in 2016, Russia delivered several divisions of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran and now Tehran is deploying those same systems to the Fordo nuclear facility according to state television.  

"Protecting nuclear facilities is paramount in all circumstances," said General Farzad Esmaili, commander of Iran's air defenses.  "Today, Iran's sky is one of the most secure in the region."

He added that "continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy."

The Fordo site, hidden into a mountain near the city of Qom, is one of Iran's numerous nuclear enrichment plants.

Within 24 hours after transferring the missiles, Iran's military detected a U.S. drone entering Iranian airspace on Monday and issued a warning for it to leave.  The drone immediately retreated from its course according to Iran's Tasnim news agency

"Iran's army air defense detected and warned an American drone in the eastern airspace of the country. It was coming from Afghanistan. The drone left the area," the report says.

Iran continues to stand strong in its defense of the Persian Gulf, declaring last Thursday that "if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it's an invasion, we confront."  Subsequently, the Iranian navy successfully intercepted a U.S. destroyer, followed by a verbal warning from U.S. officials.  

Fans Burn Jerseys After NFL's Kaepernick Refuses to Stand For National Anthem

Biracial NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was adopted and raised by white parents, is refusing to stand for the national anthem as a protest of oppression in America. 

Two days after he refused to stand for the "The Star Spangled Banner" before the 49ers' preseason loss to the Packers, Kaepernick said his stand will continue. He addressed his teammates Sunday morning, some agreeing with his message but not necessarily his method. Some said they know he has offended his countrymen.
 
Whatever the consequences, Kaepernick insists he will know "I did what's right."

Fans aren't happy about his behavior or attitude and burned his jersey over the weekend, sending the message: If you don't love America, get out.

"This jersey was the worst $50 investment I ever had," one angry fan says before setting it ablaze. "Mr. Kaepernick, if you don't love our country get the f*** out of it, okay?" 

Kaepernik is worth $110 million and grew up in Wisconsin.

Senate Leadership Fund Goes All In for Indiana Senate Seat

When former Indiana senator Evan Bayh abruptly entered the race to capture his old seat, Democrats cheered and Republicans gulped. It had already become evident that control of the Senate after this election cycle will come down to the wire and any one seat could make the difference.

Outgoing Republican Senator Dan Coats is retiring after serving only one term and now the Democrat he replaced in 2011 is looking for his old seat back. Despite Indiana being reliably red – Romney winning the Hoosier State with over 55 percent of the vote in 2012 - Evan Bayh is cruising off high name-recognition against his GOP rival, Congressman Todd Young. The Real Clear Politics average has Bayh beating Young by seven points. Roll Call calculates the race as “Tilts Democrat.”

All may seem lost, but not if one conservative super PAC has its way.

Senate Leadership Fund executed a near four million ad buy against Evan Bayh. SLF has purchased $906,000 in ads for each week in September and one in October – having previously spent $1 million on the race thus far.

SLF had already helped Young in his GOP primary and now they are boosting their investment in the congressman as he battles an uphill climb to enter the Senate.

Given what is at stake this election cycle, this could be the race that decides if Mitch McConnell gets to stay on as Senate Majority Leader or if Chuck Schumer will be getting a promotion next year.